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How to Speed up WordPress


Gary Stevens — Last Updated on November 20, 2020

How to Speed up WordPressOnly 15% of websites are running at page loading speeds there are optimal for conversion rates. And a whopping 85% of websites take over five seconds to load.

The most ideal loading time for any website is under a second.

Underneath this, you see drop-offs and conversion rates. Here’s a quick look at how conversion rates dip related to the amount of time the actual target webpage takes to fully load up:

Speed up WordPress: 8 Most Important Fixes (2020)


Let’s look at ways to speed up WordPress sites. In this guide, we cover the top factors responsible for slow WordPress websites – giving you the top fixes to speed up your WordPress site at least into the 0 to 4 seconds sweet spot 🆗.

Change the Data Center Location


A great way to speed up WordPress websites without plugins.

Most of the highest performing web hosts have multiple servers located in different countries internationally. On any plan, you may have the option to toggle the server location to best suit where your audience is checking into your website from (mainly).

It may be the case that you have visitors from all over the world distributed fairly evenly. In that instance, this advice nugget may apply less to you. But let’s say most of your websites visitors pour in from Canada…

move to a different data center

In this instance, you may find that switching the location of your web host to a Canadian-based data centre will noticeably improve page loading speeds for those visitors.

When someone visits your webpage, data needs to travel through information superhighways, composed of massive data cables (often submarine data cables) that keep the globe connected – so their device can speak to the web server hosting your website.

It’s good wisdom to limit how far data has to travel, therefore. There should be a server location area on your web server dashboard. Choose the location nearest to where the majority of your visitors visit from.

Once done, test your loading speed with GTmetrix (it’s free – toggle the testing location to match where your audience is based).

Optimize Images


Keep your eye out for suboptimal uses of images. Although it may seem like a trivial factor, poor management of images is one of the most common ways WordPress websites can become slogged down.

For instance, when making posts, do you need to have a large image? Or will a smaller image suffice? You don’t necessarily need to visibly reduce the quality of images.

Google Chrome PageSpeed Insights Extension

How to speed up WordPress here? The Chrome Page Speed Insights extension can be used to diagnose problematic areas on your website – it also gives specific advice on specific webpages (You may want to work with a developer to make best use of this advice).

Photoshop can be used to optimise the file size of images. But this can take some time – and you need to install a new work process. For plugins that take care of optimisations automatically inside of WP, use the WP app store.

A few common examples: EWWW Image Optimizer, Optimole and WP Smush.

Minify Codes


about wp plugin autoptimizeIncrease website speed (WordPress) – tip #3: ‘Minification’ involves the removal of blank areas and non-essential additional characters in website coding. Also, tabs, new lines and comments are also removed.

When you minify JavaScript and CSS scripts, you don’t change the function or design of your website – it just makes the code lessor in size, which in result improves loading times.

Interestingly, not all of the major websites minify their scripts (for instance, YouTube, Wikipedia and Amazon – they may use other tricks such as ‘obfuscation’), but it’s generally good practice.

Manual minification is very time consuming. You’d need to do it line by line and have an understanding of how coding works. Much more practical way of going about this is, once again, using WordPress plugins that perform this automatically.

  • ☑️ Look for or to Autoptimize (for JavaScript and CSS)
  • ☑️ Fast Velocity Minify automatically optimises your site’s HTML codes

Manage Plugins Correctly


wordpress pluginsIncrease website speeds with WordPress plugins (free) – tip #4:

‘WordPress Managed’ hosting plans are services where the provider automatically handles elements of the backend aspect of your website. One of those includes the updating of out of date plugins that no longer perform optimally with your WP site.

But perhaps you’re on a specific plan type – such as VPS hosting which we recommend as the basis for monetizable websites. In that case, we recommend you stay on top of manually managing your plugin portfolio.

Is there a plugin you’re no longer using for your site? Are you keeping track each time you install a new app, noting what that plugin does – so that you can easily refer back to in the future? If there’s a plugin that you know for sure you’re not using, you may do well to delete it completely.

Plugins take up a surprisingly large amount of processing power. All plug-ins may also carry outdated scripts with jumbled commands that your version of WordPress can no longer understand. Simply suspending the activity of the plug-in can make a noticeable difference.

Top Tip ⭐

How to speed up WordPress further. If you’re using plugins to schedule automated social media postings, consider switching to a third party provider.

IFTTT pricing

This type of automation can be draining processing wise, but a service like IFTTT and Zapier can automate this without adding extra demand on your server!

Look at Your Theme


Another way to speed up a WordPress website without a plugin.

There are thousands of WordPress themes available on the market. And WordPress is known for having a great amount of diversity in its theme types.

wordpress theme

Ask yourself: Even with the best WordPress host, do you need e-commerce – all lots of special features: social icons, widgets, special dynamic designs? A website like Seth Godin’s knows exactly what it’s supposed to do, which turns out to be a very minimalistic blog posting format.

If you’re using a reputable WordPress theme, consider whether your hosting plan is powerful enough to run it optimally.

To speed up WordPress, you can either lighten your theme – if there are more features than you actually need – but a similar option is to boost your plan level (and power) using a powerful budget host.

The larger the size of data your server needs to handle, the more access to resources it will need to perform well. Default (free) WordPress themes are typically suitable for websites with lesser data and capabilities.

Cache Strategically


About WP plugin W3 Cache‘Caching’ is to do with the storage of information packets. In a cache, data is temporarily group-stored; allowing browsers to access it very quickly when needed. This is usually done on the web surfers device, storing data on the hard drive itself.

Overall, caching mechanisms allow computers to handle data requests with minimal processing. Data is retrieved – sometimes large information packets – without putting the same strain on servers hosting the target websites.

How can you use caching to boost the performance of your WordPress site?

We recommend two solutions (to use in tandem). The first is an advanced type of caching plugin called Varnish. And W3 Total Cache.

Together with Varnish, this can have a substantial effect on loading speeds. They create certain workflows that simplify how your WordPress page handles data with specific users.

Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)


with CDNCDNs are distributed networks that optimise the performance of sites. WordPress websites are sped up – with the use of our content delivery network – because these networks duplicate the static content hosted on the site.

This doesn’t just concern images; content delivery networks create duplicates of JavaScript and CSS stylesheet codes, as well as videos. All this content is distributed to remote servers located in different places globally. For how to speed up WordPress, this is a fundamental.

This is similar to tip #1 in this guide: regardless of where your visitor is located, chances are that there will be a remote server somewhere nearby.

For instance, if a visitor is based in Germany, a European CDN server will be used in favour of a Canadian one.

CDNs reduce the loading time of WordPress websites because extra pressure is taken away from your web host – scripts and images/videos are processed elsewhere. We recommend MaxCDN or Cloudflare as our providers of choice.

Separate Long Posts into Individual Pages


With regards to SEO (how well search engines like Google favour your webpage in relation to specific search queries), search engines often prioritise longer posts in favour of shorter ones. This isn’t always the case but it’s a useful rule of thumb.

One thing that can boost your SEO dramatically, which is usually overlooked, is adequate alternative text so learning how to optimize images for SEO is a must.

The longer the content length, the longer a reader can pour into the material and the more information they can retrieve. Chances are that an engaging piece of content will also contain media such as video and images.

separating pages in wordpress settings

All of this increases the data size of that page, which in turn reduces how quickly it can load. One way to get the best of both worlds is splitting posts into multiple pages… Once readers reach the end of one page, there will be a button allowing them to click onto the next.

Here’s the HTML code you can add onto the relevant pages to create post paginations: “<!––nextpage––>”. Add this to each page that you want to segment.

Top Tip ⭐

Reading settingsAre you using excerpts? WordPress, by default, shows the full content of each homepage post and on archives.

This makes your website load slower and can also prevent visitors from clicking on the actual article (as they can view the full thing on the home page).

Head into Settings >> Reading and choose “For each article in a feed, show summary” (rather than “Full text”).

FAQ


Why is WordPress Running So Slow?

Fast loading times improve user experiences, how long someone spends on your website and how likely pages are to be viewed. There are many reasons that a WordPress website could be running slowly. Several hot button areas stick out for how to speed up WordPress , which you can target for maximal ROI:

Are You on a Powerful Enough Hosting Plan?

We’ve written about the pros and cons of going for a good free web host in the past – but this isn’t something we would recommend if you want to compete for specific keywords opportunities.

Hosting types

To speed up WordPress, you also need to have an understanding of the difference between paid hosting types. Shared hosting, for instance, is generally lower performing than virtual private servers (VPS). And cloud hosting has typically more scalability than VPS.

If you’re already attracting thousands of views a month, superior dedicated hosting may be what you need to serve your audience and adequately deal with the demand.

Are You Directly Uploading Audio and Video?

WordPress allows you to directly upload video and audio files. These will be shown to the viewer using its HTML5 player…

DON’T do this!

This will deplete your bandwidth – even possibly bottlenecking your website and leading to extra charges (which can happen even if your package claims to be “unlimited bandwidth”).

Let other services do the hard work on your behalf. Upload media to Vimeo, Dailymotion, YouTube, SoundCloud, etc., and simply paste the URL of the media directly into your article. It will automatically embed the content.

Other than those two fixes, make sure you’re using the best plug-ins, that your WordPress version is up-to-date and limit how many times you revise posts.

How Can I Increase My WordPress Website Speed on Mobile?

AMP mobile versionHow to speed up a WordPress site on mobile: We’d advise you carry out the same 8 steps we’ve advised so far (plus the 2 above).

Also check to make sure that AMP is selected (Accelerated Mobile Pages) in WordPress and that your theme of choice is ranked well in terms of mobile optimisations.

AMP is a mechanism Google designed to allow webpages to display quickly on mobile devices. All nonessentials are stripped from the webpage, making them more compatible and readable by mobile devices.

For instance, have a look at this screen. This is the AMP version:

Final Thoughts


Test your loading speed with GTmetrix. This is step #1 for how to speed up WordPress.

The 8 steps in this guide will give you a next great starting point for speeding your site. One through each and see what impact it’s had by testing your site again with the above link. The service is free to use.

If you’re still having trouble, then your two main additional options are to check a broader range of factors – or to increase the power of your hosting plan with a great WordPress host… Remember, if you have a good number of visitations to your website per month, improving its performance is one of the best ways to boost conversions.